Computer virus feeds off fears of war with Iran


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Worried about war with Iran, especially after yesterday’s missile test (pictured above, even if it apparently was only three missiles instead of four)?

Open an e-mail about it and you may really have worries.

As the blog Wake Up America noted today, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, or US-CERT, has warned that somebody is spreading a computer worm using e-mail messages with subject lines touting dire developments in our relationship with Iran. This is ‘Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran’ territory, as presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain jokingly sang last year.


The grim e-mail subject lines include: ‘20000 US soldiers in Iran,’ ‘US Army crossed Iran’s borders’ or ‘Third World War has begun.’

The goal is to lure people into opening the e-mail and clicking on the link, which will take them to a website where the trojan program is sneakily installed on their computer. Once infected, the computer can be used to send spam touting bogus products, as we’ve reported here. The warning from US-CERT, a public/private partnership that coordinates defenses and responses to cyber attacks, says:

US-CERT has received reports of new Storm Worm activity. The latest activity uses messages that refer to the conflict in the Middle East. This Trojan is spread via unsolicited e-mail messages that contain a link to a malicious website. The website is noted as having the following malicious characteristics which may be used to infect the user’s system with malicious code. A video that, when opened, may run the executable file ‘iran_occupation.exe.’ A banner ad that, when clicked, may run the executable file ‘form.exe.’ A hidden iframe linked to ‘ind.php.’

The site lists two dozen Iran-related subject lines being reported around the Web and notes that the they could change at any time. It reminds computer users not to follow unsolicited Web links received in e-mail messages. Even if you think your life might depend on it.

-- Jim Puzzanghera

Puzzanghera, a Times staff writer, covers tech and media policy from Washington, D.C.

Photo: AFP / Getty Images